iPhone Photography For Dummies
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Portraiture is one of the trickiest genres of iPhone photography because you’re dealing with people who naturally want (and sometimes demand) that you make them look amazing. This desire, of course, is understandable. The following discussion explains tools at your disposal to present your family members in the best light possible!

Photograph from a lower position

When you look through any fashion magazine, you can be assured that the photographer has taken the photo of the model from a lower perspective. Fashion photographers are almost always photographing from their knees or in a crouched position, as this lower angle portrays the models in an empowered, authoritative manner.

You can make use of the fashion photography low-angle portrait technique, too! Simply photograph them whereby your iPhone camera lens is aimed at their midsection. This technique make them appear taller and more empowered, as in this family portrait taken in the famous bamboo groves of Kyoto, Japan.

lower your position in family portraiture Photograph your younger family members from a lower position to create a more empowered look.

Choose black and white for fine art portraits

When you capture that perfect photo that you know will be a family favorite that lasts through the generations, why not take a second photo using one of the black-and-white filters? Of course, you can always create black-and-white conversions during the photo-editing process, but if your family members are staying still or sleeping as in the following figure, you will have plenty of time to snap a second photo using an artistic black-and-white option.

black and white family portrait If you have time, take a second family portrait in black and white to add an artistic touch to your image.

Try forced perspective techniques for fun family pics

Forced perspective photos are images where it looks like a person is as large as a huge building, such as the church in this figure. Creating them is easy:

forced perspective Forced perspective photos make people appear to be as large as tall buildings.
  1. Find a large and iconic building, such as a church or, if in Italy, the Instagram-favorite Leaning Tower of Pisa!
  2. Find a location where the distant background building has the same light as the light that is illuminating your model. This step is important. If the person is in shadow and the building in direct sunlight (or vice versa), this technique won’t work.
  3. Crouch down in a low position.
  4. Ask your family member to place their hand so that it appears that they’re holding the top of the distant large building.

For a fun sampling of forced perspective photos, do an Instagram search for Leaning Tower of Pisa. Visitors have produced these illusions in some really creative ways! You can do the same using locations much closer to home.

Don’t use Portrait mode for forced perspective portraits. Only use the normal Photo mode, as you want to avoid any background blur.

Use the Thirds grid for environmental portraits

All iPhones come with an option to overlay a Rule of Thirds grid onto your camera’s screen. This grid helps you compose photos with greater accuracy and straightness.

The term Environmental Portraiture can be loosely described as photographing people or pets within either their living environment or their favorite places. Take the following figure, for example. This East Coast of Canada location is a favorite for this family member, so when visiting, it’s important to include a lot of that environment within the composition.

environmental portrait with Rule of Thirds The Rule of Thirds grid helps you compose environmental portraits.

The grid allows you to compose your image in such a way that looks balanced. In the figure, you can see that the sand occupies the lower horizontal third, and the upper horizontal two-thirds is occupied by the attractive rocks.

Keep in mind that the Rule of Thirds doesn’t need to be slavishly followed . . . it’s simply a guide that traditionally looks good. But as you are the artist, feel free to compose as you like.

Create humorous photos to keep the mood light

Have you ever woken up and felt that everything is wrong with the world? If so, you’re not alone. However, a wonderful antidote to that emotion is the world of silly photos! Create and view as many funny photos as possible, as these gems always lighten the mood.

You can plan funny family photos, such as the chip bag on the right of the following figure, or they can be completely spontaneous, such as a fun lunch at the ski lodge in the next image.

funny photo Always be on the lookout for funny photo opportunities.

spontaneous photo When kids are spontaneously acting silly, get photographing!

In a sense, you have a moral obligation to keep the word smiling. So, get out there and create as many silly family photos as possible!

Avoid objects sticking out of people’s heads

This is a common complaint: “Hey, I have a telephone pole coming out of my head!”

Well, to avoid the telephone pole coming out of your family member’s head, or as in this figure the vase of flowers, always double-check to make sure that everyone’s head has a clean background.

avoid objects coming out of heads Watch out for items in the background that appear to be coming out of someone’s head.

Interestingly, by using Portrait mode for your family photos you can minimize this problem, as the background automatically becomes blurry.

Choose to include mirrors in your compositions

Don’t let a single moment pass you by! Always look for photo opportunities within every location that you are in and especially make use of elevator mirrors. You can create some unique photos within those multimirrored tiny spaces.

Elevator mirrors allow for a sense of abstract portraiture, especially when you compose in such a way that a person appears twice in the same photo as in this figure. You can either include yourself in them or simply move around a bit so that you’re not included in any mirror reflection.

photographing mirrors Mirrored elevators are great locations for unique family photos.

Include family member’s interests

This family photography tip may seem overly simplistic and obvious, but it’s amazing how many people neglect documenting their family involved in their hobbies and other interests. Sports usually gets a lot of screen time, but quieter endeavors are often neglected.

Each year as children or grandchildren grow up, try to get at least one photo of them doing or being involved in their favorite hobby, such as the young sketch artist shown in this figure. Their hobbies will most likely change over the years, and your visual record of them will be a highly cherished memory decades to come.

family interests A simple example of showcasing and documenting a family member’s drawing talent.

Avoid overcast skies

Overcast skies are fantastic for portraiture, as the soft light produced by the cloud cover creates flattering portrait lighting. However, if you have the ability to compose your photo so that the overcast sky is not included in your family picture, you may end up with a more visually powerful final image.

Take a look at the following figure, which shows an overcast sky that doesn’t really add any value to the photo.

irrelevant overcast sky An irrelevant overcast sky visible in a family group photo.

The image shown in this next photo allows the viewer to appreciate the people a bit more, as one less visual element in the image competes for your viewer’s attention.

avoid sky without content If a sky doesn’t have any visual value, either don’t include it or crop it out later.

Think of it this way: A background should almost always support the subject. The subject matter is the family, so they’re the priority. If you reduce the amount of varied visual elements in the background, your viewer will probably linger on the people more instead of being distracted by non-essential visuals like an overcast sky.

In saying that, however, keep in mind that wonderful blue skies, dramatic storm clouds, or sunsets are completely different. Dramatic skies often add to the family portrait, not take away from it. It’s the definition-less and blah-looking overcast sky that is often best removed, as it really doesn’t add visual value to the family being photographed.

You can avoid a distracting sky by zooming in or by cropping your photo afterward.

Combine family photos using the Layout app

A social media favorite that you may have seen on your Facebook feed is a grouping of multiple photos into one single image. If you’d like to share just one photo that includes four different scenes rather than share four separate photos, download the app called Layout from Instagram, which produces combined photos similar to this one.

photo Layout app A typical four-photo layout that is saved as a single image file, suitable for social media uploading.

When opened, the app asks you to select your favorite multiple photos from your Photos collection, and the app takes care of assembling the photos with your input. When done creating your layout, you can save the newly created image to your Photos app camera roll and proceed to upload to your favorite social media platform.

Photograph from an aerial perspective

While there’s value in photographing people from a lower perspective, which gives them a fashion-model type of appearance, this tip is the opposite: It’s also valuable to photograph a family member from a higher angle, often called an aerial perspective. This situation is certainly the case when photographing newborns or small children.

aerial perspective An aerial perspective is both creative and useful for many family photos, especially of babies being held.

Most likely, 90 percent of all photography in the world is taken at eye-level, which is probably about 5.5 feet or so off the ground. So why not buck the trend and take photos that are unique? Avoid the eye-level photos and use creative compositional angles, such as aerials, to create your family masterpieces.

Screenshot photos for family who are away

On a business trip and you miss your family? You can easily create your own family photos by using your iPhone’s Facetime app! You’ll end up with a screenshot photo similar to this one.

Facetime video Use Facetime video calling and screenshots to save photo memories when you are away.

To create a photo from your iPhone’s screen, follow along with these easy steps:

  1. Open your Facetime app.
  2. Video-call your family member.
  3. When you see them on the video call, ask them to smile.
  4. Do a screenshot, which saves that lovely smile to your Photos app.

A screenshot can be done very easily. For an iPhone X series model or later, press the volume up button on the left (when holding vertically) and the side button on the right at the exact same time. This will save your screen to your Photos app.

On an iPhone 8, 7, or 6 series model, press the side button on the right and the Home button at the same time.

On an iPhone SE, 5, or earlier model, press the top button and the circular home button at the same time.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Mark Hemmings can be found traveling the world conducting photography workshops with a big emphasis on iPhone photography. He has a great passion for teaching iPhone camera best practices, which shows in his daily Instagram photo lessons. Mark has been a professional photographer since 1997 and an iPhone travel photographer since 2012.

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